A brand of luxury cat food was recalled after pets that came into contact with it developed potentially-deadly bovine tuberculosis (bTB).
50 pedigree cats are believed to have been infected by luxury brand Natural Instinct’s wild venison product, according to vets.
The ‘natural’ wild venison food was marketed as a healthier alternative to other cat food, however it was recalled as soon as veterinary scientists suspected that it had caused the outbreak of the disease.
Dozens of cats became ill
The move came after veterinary scientists at the University of Edinburgh began looking into why dozens of cats had become ill with bTB.
The outbreak was first spotted when six different cats were taken to vets across England.
Tests showed that all of the cats were infected with the bacteria responsible for causing bTB, which is most common in cows but can also affect deer.
Seven more cats, all from the same homes as the six tested, were found to have the disease.
All the cats were pedigree house cats
All of the cats were kept indoors, so could not have been passed the disease through contact with animals such as cattle or deer.
Since then more cats have been tested, and more than 30 households and 90 cats have been tested, with more than half found to have the disease.
The Times reported that one owner, Gillian Groves from Dumfries, had a Bengal cat called Roxy that was killed by the bTB.
Vets found that the only common factor between the infected cats was that they had eaten the wild venison Natural Instinct cat food.
Vets have also warned that the disease can in rare cases be transmitted to humans, and because of this, euthanasia is advised for cats with serious infections.
Disease can be dormant in cats and humans
Bovine TB can also be latent in both cats and humans meaning it can be inactive for some time before symptoms take hold.
Owners are therefore advised to keep an eye on their pets even if they ate the food a long time ago, before the recall in December.
Professor Danièlle Gunn-Moore, of the University of Edinburgh’s Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, said: “We found circumstantial evidence that these cases of TB in cats were linked to a particular brand of raw food diet.
“Not all animals that are infected with the bacteria will develop disease but we would encourage owners with concerns about their pets to get them checked by their local vet.”
What are the symptoms?
The strain of bTB observed in these cats affected the lungs and intestines and caused weight loss, abdominal masses, diarrhoea and in some cats coughing, which in some cases contained blood.
A Natural Instinct spokesperson said that the company had stopped selling the product immediately after being informed by the Food Standards Agency “of the problem of lack of inspection”.
They added: “Everything we do at Natural Instinct is done so with the best interests of our customers and their pets in mind.
“We can assure our customers that Natural Instinct followed, and continues to follow, every food standard, hygiene regulation and best practice required to produce raw pet food in the commercial market place.”
The products that have been recalled are packs of all sizes with best before dates between March and August 2019.